The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Winning
96 Points
The Contender
James.ticknor
Con (against)
Losing
75 Points

Prostitution should be legalized in the United States.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/17/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,074 times Debate No: 9501
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (26)
Votes (30)

 

Freeman

Pro

I will be using a dual overlaying teleological/constitutional argument to contend that prostitution should be legalized in the United States. In this project I will borrow the harm principle, as articulated by John Stewart Mill, to argue that the only reasonable circumstance in which a government can limit a citizen's liberty is to prevent that person from causing harm to others. This view when taken to its logical conclusion would entail the legalization of prostitution.

Contention 1: The Harm Principle

For the sake of convenience I will grant to my opponent that prostitution may harm its participants albeit inadvertently. What conclusions can we draw from this? Clearly we can't conclude that prostitution should be outlawed solely on the basis of its potentially being harmful to its consenting patrons. If we were to take this route then we would also have to outlaw cigarettes, alcohol, skydiving, and driving. Alcohol has no known medical uses and its dangerous levels of consumption can be achieved rather easily. Its contribution to murders, lethal car accidents, violent crimes and property damage is beyond dispute because it generally releases the inhibitions of those that take it. [1] Any coherent argument against prostitution that would leave alcohol legalized would be a masterpiece of political engineering. Indeed, the harm principle clears prostitution because it is incapable of harming anyone aside from those that willingly choose to engage in it.

Contention 2: The Offense Principle

Shall our government limit liberties on the basis that certain actions will offend others? Not if we wish to remain consistent with the bill of rights. At no point in the bill of rights is anyone guaranteed the right not to be offended. Secondly, people will inevitably take offense to nearly anything, which renders the offense principle entirely relative. The offense principle provides no objective basis for limiting liberty because different things will always offend different people. And if it were taken to its logical conclusion the offense principle could lead to us outlawing minority religions like Islam, pornography, mini skirts, chewing gum, backwards baseball hats and nearly anything imaginable.

Contention 3: The Utility Factor

Like it or not people love sex. Some like it a bit too much, but hey, who am I to judge. Sex provides happiness and gratification to those that freely enjoy it. To deny people their right to enjoy sex for money is to deny them their right to pursue happiness as they see fit. The only rational thing that can be said about our collective aversion to prostitution is that we, as a society, have systematically demonized everything that could possibly exceed the pleasure of prayer or pro creative sex.

Contention 4: Constitutionality

As free people we have the right to pursue happiness as we see fit insofar as this behavior doesn't injure innocent bystanders. We do not, for instance, have the freedom to drive down the freeway blindfolded even if this behavior were to produce copious amounts of happiness in the driver. The problem with prostitution is not in the act itself it is within each of us. Prostitution between consenting adults infringes upon no one else's rights and this much is beyond dispute. The declaration of independence guarantees our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [2] To deny or infringe these rights in any way without sound reason is unconstitutional and it is unfair. We have a constitution to guarantee us freedom from the tyranny of the majority. It follows from this that we are not at liberty to deny people rights merely because we find their behavior to be sordid.

In this context it is important to reflect upon the fact that our constitution says nothing about prostitution and certain passages of the Constitution stipulate that a sound argument can be made for prostitution with the following articles: [3] – [4]

�Article I, Section 10: "No State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts."
�Article VI: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States... shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby; anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding... All executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution."
�Amendment IX: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
�Amendment X: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
�Amendment XIII, Section 1: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Contention 5: Potential Rebuttals Addressed

Arguments about child prostitution will be disregarded because my argument focuses on consenting adults.

=========
Sexually transmitted diseases will spread if we legalize prostitution.
=========

Even if this were true- (which I don't think it is)- it doesn't logically follow that prostitution should be illegal. If our government were to divert its resources to go after prostitutes merely because they may have STDS then in order to avoid being hypocritical we would also have to prosecute sexually promiscuous people. Surely there are ordinary citizens that engage in more sex than prostitutes. The notion that cops would regulate ordinary peoples sexual behavior for the "greater good" is as ridiculous as it is obscene. And yet this would be the exact world we would be beckoned to if we were to casually regulate people's sex lives on the basis that they could infect other people.

========
Conclusion
========
Victimless crimes are as repugnant as they are pervasive in our society and if we seek to take steps to ending the mindset that creates them then we should do the right thing and legalize prostitution.

Defining terms

Prostitution is defined as the act of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money or goods. (http://en.wikipedia.org.........)----- For the purpose of clarity, the definition of prostitution in this debate will only include the direct physical act of engaging in sexual activity between two persons, and thus pornography would not qualify as prostitution.

Harm principle (as articulated by J.S. Mill)- a government can only limit the liberty and rights of its citizens in order to prevent citizens from harming each other.
(http://en.wikipedia.org.........)

Sources

[1] http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu.........

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org.........

[3] http://www.earlyamerica.com.........

[4] http://www.buildfreedom.com.........
James.ticknor

Con

To make this debate have more depth and add an interesting quality, I will also use my oppents value principle "The Harm Principle". Indeed, the principle is articluated by John Stewart Mill, and I will refute each of my opponents contentions and subpoints effectively. Which leads my to my first point.

Contention 1: Offense (to contend with oppents Contention 2)

My opponent stated that, like it or not, we will offend someone no matter what we do. This is inevitable and undisputed. However, when it is a common moral thread, it is considered immoral. Soliciting sex for money is proven immoral and not just an offense to one, lone person, but many. It would be different if the numbers were fewer.

Contention 2: Utility Factor (to contend with contention 3)

My oppenent conceded that it is his own personal opinion that "Some like it a bit too much..." Instead of getting the help that sex addicts need, they can fuel their own illness and indulge themselves in sex. But what happens when they do not have enough money for the addiction they need? For these answers, it is logical to look towards similar cases of such addiction, such as marijuanna users. They will lie, kill, and steal to get what they think they need. Why not expect the same from these addicts?
As an interesting note, you said that "I will grant to my oppent that prostitution may harm its particpants in albeit inadvertently". But your and mine priciple states that the government can interfere if it comes to harm the public. The source (wikipedia) which you presented states
"He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute"
This means that he/she can not provide service (public or private) that will cause potential harm to others. Yet you admit that it may.

In this, you contradict yourself.

You also said society has demonized anything that could possibly exceed the pleasure of prayer. I ask you to present evidence of this statement or else I will have to assume that it is personal opinion and therefore must be stricken from this debate.

Contention 3: Constitutionality (to contend with Contention 4)

You said we can pursue happiness as we see fit as long as it doesn't hurt any innocent bystanders. This isn't true. People aren't going to be on the sidelines cheering you on while you're (for lack of a better phrase) "nailing some chick in the behind." It could harm both you and her, and as a consumer paying for a good/service, you are entitled to the quality of service and if you get an STD (which is highly possible)...let's just say it's not good.
"To deny these rights in any way without sound reason is unconstitutional and is unfair." That may be true, but there is a reason, personal safety (STD's, mainly).
You also said, "Prositution between consenting adults infringes upon no one else's rights and this much is beyond dispute." It may not infrige upon others right's, but what about the participants? This, again, falls under quality of service.

ARTICLES and AMENDMENTS
(I won't copy what you said, but I'll label and argue them.)

Article I, Section 10: You can not prove a verbal contract, which most of them are.
Article VI: The judges have agreed to illegize prostition and make it "the law of the land."
Amendment IX: You have to prove the illegalization of prostitution as "Misconstrued" for this to be a valid point.
Amendment X: You're right, prostitution is not mention in the Constitution, which means that it is reserved for the states to decide. In Nevada and Rhode Island, there ARE prostitution brothels. Since these are already legalized, these DO NOT fall under this debate. In the 48 other states though, it is illegal and this amendment says they have such power.
Amendment XIII, Section 1: I fail to see relevance in this. Please explain more.

Contention 4: Pontential Rebuttals (to contend with Contention 5)

No child will be considered for prostitution

Unlimited prostition (especially unregulated) will most likely spread STD's, whether or not you care to believe it.
Sexually promsicuous people are not exchanging a service for money, so they can not be regulated because they are not a business. When you pay for it, it's not an ordinary circumstance.

NOTES: Alcohol DOES have known medical uses. Ethyl alcohol is used as a pain reliever. The reason it was used in drinks is to add flavor and people are instructed not to indulge enough to become openly drunk, for that is illegal.

QUESTIONS: Who's the one victemized when an STD is transferred? Is this a victemless crime?
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

Let me express my thanks to my antagonist for accepting this debate. It has been up for quite a while and up until this point no one has accepted it.

===============
Case PRO- Rebuttals
===============

Contention 1: The Offense Principle

"Soliciting sex for money is proven immoral and not just an offense to one, lone person, but many. It would be different if the numbers were fewer." -James.ticknor

Instead of going into an elaborate rebuttal I will simply point out that my opponent has created an argumentum ad populum fallacy. [1]

Contention 2: The Harm Principle

I have already demonstrated that prostitution can harm no one apart from those that choose to willingly engage in it. I don't contradict myself in saying that the harm principle clears prostitution because prostitution is incapable of harming or impeding the rights of anyone that is not involved in it of their own free will.

The fact that we demonized things that result in copious amounts of pleasure is evidenced by our drug policies, among other things. [2] And this issue is of no relevance at any rate so your desire to contend it would be little more than a waste of time.

Contention 3: Prostitution and STDS

"QUESTIONS: Who's the one victemized when an STD is transferred? Is this a victemless crime?" -James.ticknor

My opponent's argument could also be applied, with equal validity, to outlaw driving, and thus is invalid. Any harm that prostitution may result in through STDS is constrained only to the individuals that engage in sex of their own free consent. Driving on the other hand has be known for decades to kill thousands of people and tens of thousands of innocent bystanders.

---> "Car Crash Stats: There were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States in 2005. The financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. 2.9 million people were injured and 42,636 people killed. About 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in the United States -- one death every 13 minutes." [2]

=========
Conclusion
=========

The false pretense of concern for people's safety in debates over prostitution is evidenced by the legality of alcohol and cigarettes. Under my opponent's arguments, tobacco is an even better candidate for prohibition than prostitution. According to the American Cancer Society 1 in 10 deaths worldwide is due to tobacco use. [3] Furthermore, Article I, Section 10 of our constitution clearly states that, "No State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts." It follows from this that we are not at liberty to nullify contracts to prohibit behavior that we may find to be distasteful. As free citizens we have the right to engage in various activities even if the behavior of these activieties may be detrimental to our health.

All the best,
Freeman

======
Sources
======

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov...

[3] http://www.car-accidents.com...
James.ticknor

Con

1) On note to the point of my "Arguementum ad populum fallacy", I will just ask to you to look at your own moral standard.

2) "I have already demonstrated that prostitution can harm no one apart from those that choose to willingly engage in it. I don't contradict myself in saying that the harm principle clears prostitution because prostitution is incapable of harming or impeding the rights of anyone that is not involved in it of their own free will."
This is NOT true.

www.msnbc.msn.com/www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers//www.examiner.com/x-3284-Detroit-Top-News-Examiner~y2009m8d17-Livingston-County-Doctor-beaten-to-death-after-prostitution

Just look at these three examples of prostitution related deaths. There is also the (great, in my opinion) movie MONSTER based on a true story of a prostitute who ends up going on a killing spree because of her 'job'. Whether the harm is direct or indirect of prostitution it does not matter, so my opponent DOES contradict himself.

3) "Demonized Point" Fine, but I'd like to point out that you also used the argumentum ad populum fallacy.

4) I'm having difficulty understanding the relevance of my opponents analogy. What if I didn't know that the person had an STD? That's not my fault, and that's no accident.

Point 5) ....good luck, bud.
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

Let me begin by thanking James.ticknor for his time and his willingness to debate with me on this issue.

For the record, I am personally opposed to prostitution in the same way that I am opposed to eating meat. However, I would never dream of imposing my personal conduct on other people insofar as their behavior did not harm anyone.

=======
Case Pro- Rebuttals
=======

Contention 1: Appealing to the crowd

MY opponent has already conceded that he has used the argumentum ad populum fallacy when he wrote, "Soliciting sex for money is proven immoral and not just an offense to one, lone person, but many. It would be different if the numbers were fewer." In light of this he then goes on to convict me of using it, which is a bit silly. At no point in either of my first two essays have I made an appeal to public opinion or argued that because the majority of people approve of X then we should legalize X.

Contention 2: Prostitution related deaths

There will always be unscrupulous people in this world that prey on women, but that doesn't mean that we should equate prostitution with physical abuse. Arguing that prostitution should be outlawed because prostitutes occasionally get murdered is like arguing that strip clubs should be outlawed because strippers occasionally get murdered. Therefore this argument can be dismissed. If we are concerned about the safety of prostitutes and their clients then this would provide a powerful argument that prostitution should be regulated, not outlawed. This has already been successfully accomplished in Nevada. [1]

=======
Conclusion
=======

Throughout this debate we have seen no good reasons why prostitution should be outlawed and I have given four strong arguments in favor of legalizing it. It's easy to see through the hypocrisy behind the arguments against prostitution because they could also apply to other activities that are harmful like drinking and smoking. Smoking not only kills tens of millions of people around the globe every year but it's also responsible for a plethora of different disease that relate to second hand smoking. [2] In order to deal with these problems our society has set up regulations that prevent people from smoking in public buildings, among other things. We can also take the same approach to prostitution by regulating it in order to ensure the safety and well being of prostitutes and their clients. (Resolution Affirmed)- Vote Pro

Sources:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.healthline.com...

========
Clarification:
========
My round two sources had some problems with the way they were organized. Here is an updated list in case there was any confusion.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov...
[3] http://www.car-accidents.com...
[4] http://www.msnbc.msn.com...

Good luck :)
James.ticknor

Con

I'd like to thank my oppnent for this debate. It's been fun =)

Clash for Contention 1:
My opponent said "We've demonized prostituition..." By 'we' I assume he means the general population, and he did NOT present facts on it. I'd like that statment stricken from the debate. I don't seek penalties or anything for it, just disreguard.

Clash for Contention 2:
It's not just about murder. There have been politicans who have cheated on their wives with prositutes.

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/.../AR2007070902030.html

This has created problems for the family who did not have any involvment with prostitutes and not only that, the country. The prostitutes saftey and overall well being isn't the only concern- it's everyones. Indeed, brothels have been organized and heavily regulated in Nevada and Rhode Island, but these are already legalized and do not follow the debate topic. Which is my preposition of a alternative. Brothels. The resolution does not state specifically organized, regulated prostitution, but prostitution in general, and with that I disagree. My opponent even states his/her support for it. (...should be regulated.)

My opponent seems to have forgotten the Harm Principle, and strayed a little from it. However, my entire foundation has been on safety. The safety of the prostitute, the 'client', and the client's potential family/friends. It is COMMON SENSE that prostitution is not entirely safe, and my opponent has concedded that, and I quote,

"For the sake of convenience I will grant to my opponent that prostitution may harm its participants albeit inadvertently"
This goes agenst his own principle, and supports my use for it.

This is the main reason why I believe I have won. The secondary reason being I have successfully clashed, dissected my opponents case, and provided a better alternative on which we both seem to agree.

Please vote CON, and have a great day!
Debate Round No. 3
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lziggyrun12 6 years ago
lziggyrun12
Con really did get smashed I will agree. I would also like to comment about the legalization of prostitution. I believe it is an ill way to make money. Those who have the energy to go out and sell themselves for sex should have the energy to gain an honest job. Prostitution just adds to the epidemic of STDS, which kill thousands of people every day. If this was legal, the rate in which people have an STD would grow to be so large that you wouldnt even be able to step outside your door without being at a great risk of an STD. I mean come on!
Posted by Vaibanez 6 years ago
Vaibanez
Con got smashed. Pro wins .
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
In order to win the hearts of your opponents, you need to show that you understand where they are comming from.

And, I have the feeling con did not understand the harm principle argument.

Or at the very worse, he was hoping the voter did not understand it, so he blantatly misrepresented it.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
"However If a man steals to save a starving child society would say this is wrong by definition of the moral that to steal is wrong, thus it is clear that not all of society's imposed morals are always correct."

Eh, that's an intrinsic model of morality - nothing about which precludes other types. Also "thus it is clear" is clearly not, given you make null argument to the effect.

"On the health and crime front , regulated prostitution can prevent the spread of STDS by regular health checking of the vendor health a requirement of the right to trade"

So can banning, sex, and life itself. A "right to trade" (nonsensical in itself) would only be applicable if those individuals services were handles via a private business where they were hired for such a purpose.

"By proper enforcement of regulation in the open rather than the clandestine back street position at present we can prevent much of the enforced child prostitution and forced prostitution that currently exists"

Does not follow. Regulation by it's nature would simply create a market precisely where 'back street' becomes viable, given the clandestine nature of the customer, service relationship. Also such things as a market for child sex, is already deemed illegal, and of course known by those that purchase those services. Regulating adult traders of sex, does not in the least change the market for non-adults.
Posted by radioactivepotatoman 7 years ago
radioactivepotatoman
I love me my sex.
Posted by James.ticknor 7 years ago
James.ticknor
Oops, wrong debate to say that. heh, funny computer issues
Posted by James.ticknor 7 years ago
James.ticknor
Damn! That sucks for me!
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
James.ticknor, please don't forfeit the last round. That would make me sad considering how much time I put into this debate. :(
Posted by britangle 7 years ago
britangle
A moral argument is one that can only be made as an individual,
Each of us has a different moral value system, only society tries to limit and control this
in some cases this is correct (child prostitution for example )
However If a man steals to save a starving child society would say this is wrong by definition of the moral that to steal is wrong, thus it is clear that not all of society's imposed morals are always correct.
To translate one moral to another but to vary it in translation is not correct , therefore it is better to let each individual adult decide the moral on prostitution and to express the decision in choice

On the health and crime front , regulated prostitution can prevent the spread of STDS by regular health checking of the vendor health a requirement of the right to trade

By proper enforcement of regulation in the open rather than the clandestine back street position at present we can prevent much of the enforced child prostitution and forced prostitution that currently exists
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
Opps, I got my sources mixed up in the second round.

The second [2] should be a [3] and the [3] should be a [4].

The source for the fourth reference is right here. http://www.msnbc.msn.com...
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